Not Just Syria: Interactive Map Shows Displacement Owing to War Is the Norm

The nearly 60 million people fleeing violence around the globe aren’t only from the Mideast nation.
A woman holds her child in a cave in Bram village in the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan, Sudan. (Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)
Jan 23, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

With some people in Syria having to choose between starvation and eating grass, it should come as no surprise that despite the cold of winter, the flood of folks crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Europe is showing no signs of letting up in 2016. The latest data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reveals that so far in January, 36,538 people have made the treacherous journey, 55 percent of them women and children. But the problem of people being displaced is growing, and it’s not limited to that demographic.

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Data released in December by the agency revealed that in the first six months of 2015, a staggering 60 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced from their homes. Now a new interactive map reveals how much worse the situation has become in recent decades.

The visualization takes UNHCR data collected between 1951 and 2014 on populations of concern, which it defines as “refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons.” By clicking on the years along the bottom of the map, a user can see how “the number of people displaced due to conflict, war, persecution, and human rights violations has increased significantly in recent years.”

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Clicking on individual countries on the map reveals the total number of people impacted. With 1 million people fleeing war and sectarian violence in 2015, the Syrian refugee crisis has been called the biggest mass displacement of people since World War II. But with the UNHCR map, a user can click on Syria and see how the civil war, which began in 2011, has resulted in about 7 million people leaving the country.

On Thursday, UNICEF launched an appeal calling on political leaders and people around the world to band together to end the violence and suffering in Syria. “UNHCR’s statistics are a sad testimony of this global trend,” the agency wrote.